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Co-Lin Board opts to trim conference stay expenses

WESSON – Copiah-Lincoln Community College officials votedunanimously to cut short their stay at the Beau Rivage Hotel inBiloxi during a community college trustees convention this summer,saying it’s not right to cut other things and not take cutsthemselves.

The Trustee Conference, which takes place July 9-10 of this year,cost the college about $8,600 for lodging for the 26 attendees fromCo-Lin last year. In addition, a Friday night meal at MaryMahoney’s cost around $3,500.

Copiah Trustee Johnny Pyles brought up the question of expenditureswhen the conference came up during meeting business. He said if thecollege is going to have to look at cutting out some scholarshipsor off-season travel for athletic teams, the board needs to look attaking some cuts as well.

“From the board standpoint, we’re approving cutting these costs,and where’s our sacrifice?” he said, adding that he and his wifewould be happy to pay their own costs for Saturday night if itwould save the school money.

Trustee Chuck Gilbert agreed, saying in the past, trustees havespent just one night at the convention instead of two. Othertrustees agreed.

“What benefit does the college get out of it?” asked fellow trusteeRickey Smith. “Do we actually learn anything at these things, or dowe just do it because we can because we’re trustees?”

Board Vice-chairman Roy Winkworth, who used to serve as theMississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges Trusteespresident, told the board that the truly helpful information couldall be gathered Friday night and early Saturday.

The meeting and networking, he said, helps college leaders to passalong problems and solutions they’ve encountered along the way.Saturday morning is when the speaker and interaction with thelegislators comes into play.

“I asked if the state board would cancel this based on the economicconditions,” Winkworth said. “Either way, there’s room to make achange. We could pay for one night, or no nights, or we could payfor less people.”

Board member Mary Cleveland said she thought the entire conferencewas especially beneficial to her as a trustee.

“I go because I get to see what’s going on with other colleges,”she said. “It benefits me for Saturday as well, and I think thatinformation is very important to talk with the legislators. It’sour chance to tell them our needs and let them say what they can dofor us.”

Nettles said he had heard from other college leaders who werelooking into making cuts on conference expenditures as well.

“Other colleges are looking at the same thing,” he said to theboard. “They’re talking about one night or a reduced number ofpeople. We’ll do whatever you decide.”

Winkworth said last year he only stayed one night and was able tobe there Saturday for the discussions with legislators because theyoccur fairly early in the day.

Pyles’ motion to ask trustees who want to stay Saturday night topay their own way passed unanimously. The college will continue tocover the Friday night stay and the traditional meal at MaryMahoney’s.

Board Chairman Eugene Bates told Pyles he thought the decision wasa good one.

“Given the circumstances, I agree with you,” he said. “This is ayear that as a board we should express sympathy for the people whoare impacted by these difficult times. This is a good move.”